Exclusive: Director Angela Robinson Talks “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women”

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TIFF 2017 Exclusive: Director Angela Robinson Talks “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women”
Posted by Wilson Morales

September 29, 2017

Hitting theaters on October 13th is the the origin story of the most famous female superhero in comic book history “Professor Marston & The Wonder Women,” directed by Angela Robinson and starring Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, and Bella Heathcote.

The film had its World Premiere recently at Toronto International Film Festival.

This biopic is of 1940s Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston, the inventor of the lie detector and creator of the iconic Wonder Woman, who defends his feminist superhero against charges of ‘sexual perversity’ while at the same time maintaining a secret that could have destroyed him.

It is the 1920s, and William and Elizabeth Marston (Luke Evans and Rebecca Hall) are easily the most glamorous academics on the campus of Tufts University. Gifted young student Olive Byrne (Bella Heathcote) is drawn into the couple’s orbit. She takes Bill’s psychology class and soon becomes an invaluable research assistant: she sneaks the Marstons into a sorority “baby party,” an event that bolsters their provocative theories about dominance, submission, and eros.

Flirtation infuses the heady air of grand ideas until Bill, Elizabeth, and Olive become a threesome in the bedroom as well as the academy. Their arrangement will cost them dearly, but their struggle to live on their own terms prompts Bill to draw upon his research to create the lasso-wielding Amazonian goddess that would give girls someone to look up to in the male-dominated milieu of comic books.

The film also stars Connie Britton and Oliver Platt.

For Robinson, this project has been years in the making and long before Warner Bros. greenlit a Wonder Woman solo film that director Patty Jenkins took another level with its $800M plus box office gross. Having worked in television over the last decade, Robinson has directed the feature-length films D.E.B.S. (2004) and Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005).

Blackfilm.com spoke exclusively with Robinson on her latest film and keeping the Wonder Woman craze still going in 2017.

How did this story come to you?

Angela Robinson: I basically started as a huge Wonder Woman fan since I was a kid. After I wrapped my first feature, a friend gave me this beautiful Wonder Woman book and there was this chapter in it on the Marstons. I became fascinated with their story. I set out to write their story and became deeply enmeshed in researching his ideas and it took me four years to write the movie on nights and weekends and between other jobs. Then another four years to get the film made. Stage 6 greenlit it and that was finally last summer. Then we were in production by fall and now the movie is coming out.

Do you think the success that Marvel has had with its films and the talk about the lack of women directors had anything to do with the purchase and distribution of the film?

Angela Robinson: I don’t know. Everyone says that the timing is perfect but I have been very actively trying to get the movie made for four years. The money had come together and then the money had fell apart. I do think that once Wonder Woman got into production, I knew that Wonder Woman was going to be a huge hit. That wasn’t the conventional wisdom a year ago. Actually, Joe Matukewicz and Steve Bersch at Sony Worldwide and Stage 6 basically took a chance on the movie. It wasn’t a done deal because it’s hard to raise any money for an independent film, but I personally thought there was a huge moment.

What aspect of the film stood out more, the story on the Martsons and Olive or Wonder Woman the character, which would have a bigger appeal?

Angela Robinson: I sort of can’t separate those two things. For me, it was fundamentally a love story. It was an organic love story about how these three people came together and had a family, but also how their relationship came to be reflected in the pages of Wonder Woman and came to influence this iconic character who we love today.

Can you talk about casting the leads ( Luke Evans, Rebecca Hall, and Bella Heathcote)?

Angela Robinson: I was obsessed with Luke Evans and I kept bugging his reps to get the script to him and I had been tracking him for a really long time. What I loved about him for the role was that he has this very intense masculinity that’s really palpable but he also has this intelligence and sensitivity I felt necessary to tell and play Marston. He wasn’t available, and then his schedule opened up and his reps called and said “Luke likes the script and if you can make the movie in this window, he’s in.” I then spoke with him and he was on board.

Rebecca Hall is so brilliant and I’m such an enormous fan. I actually heard that she had read the script and was intrigued by it. I just jumped for joy. When Rebecca Hall says she’s interested in your script, you run. I bought a ticket and flew to New York to meet her and she actually been exploring adapting the Marston story herself. She knew a lot about it and was intrigued by their story on a different path. We had a meeting in Brooklyn and she signed on.

I met a lot of actresses for the part of Olive, and I met with Bella and short afterwards, she sent me a tape of her scenes. I was just blown away because the role was deceptive in that she starts off as an ingenue but she has this incredible transformation in the movie. I needed somebody who could be simultaneously incredibly vulnerable and strong at the same time and she just blew me away with her performance.

How did you want to film the love scenes between the three of them?

Angela Robinson: It was really important to me to be very respectful and organic. I didn’t want anything to be gratuitous of their experience. I just wanted to tell an organic love story of how these three people would come together and that was the way I approached sex scenes as well. I feel that sometimes in films they skip over the emotional storytelling of the sex scene. It likes the whole movie stops and then you see them having sex and then the movie picks up again and then they don’t act through the sex scene.

To me, for them (the characters) it was about being free and true to themselves once they put on these costumes, when they were finally able to be together. I was never concerned about what they were physically doing to each other. I spent a lot of time on their faces and a lot of time on their interactions and how they are learning to be together and explore this new transcendent place that they found together where they could be playful and free.

Can you talk about the music?

Angela Robinson: Yes. It’s this amazing composer named Tom Howe. He’s awesome and actually wrote some music for the Wonder Woman film as well. It’s really interesting that he worked on both films.

Clip – Nobody Will Ever Publish This

Clip – President

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